Following Through with Change

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“The road to success is dotted with many tempting parking spaces.” -Will Rogers

Am I the only one who is regretfully remembering those New Year Resolutions made months ago…? As January dawned, our hope for change blossomed and, picturing the end result, we readily jumped into new habits and courageously stepped in a new direction.

But it’s spring now – the weather’s getting warmer and those targets we set for ourselves in January may seem more distant than ever – all motivation gone and we have every opportunity to “park the car”.  

The exhilaration we feel when we decide to make a change, though powerful, is often fleeting. In order to continue moving forward, we need to be strategic about avoiding parking spaces along the road towards change.

Here are three ways to stay consistent and follow through with change in your life:

1) Have a Vision.

A person without vision is a wanderer.

If our vision is too small, we will fail to see the tangible change we desire in our lives. But if our vision is too big, we will find ourselves discouraged as we aimlessly reach for a dream that is outside of our grasp.

Our vision for what we want – in our business, in our personal lives, for our families – must be a healthy blend of rigorous realism and hope for a glorious future. Not one or the other, but both.

If you haven’t written down your vision, make that a priority today!

2) Make a Plan.

A vision without a plan is only a dream.

I’m a dreamer who values the process of taking incremental steps to achieve my audacious goals. Each of us needs to take time to imagine what life might be like if we accomplished something really big – whether it’s at work or in our families.

Several people I’ve worked with advise those in the planning process to anticipate the “parade of the horribles”. They encourage people to consider what might go wrong so they can be ready with contingency plans instead of panicking.

The unexpected will always happen, but we are more prepared to keep moving forward when we have a plan.

3) Stick to a Schedule.

A plan without a schedule is frustrating and confusing.

In many ways, my calendar is my life, but it’s not a burden in the least. I’m tied to it in a way that gives me more freedom, peace, and confidence.

When President George W. Bush was in office, he divided his day into fifteen-minute segments. He was determined to get the most out of each block of time. I love this practice and have seen positive results as I’ve incorporated it into my own life.

When we look at our calendars, we want to maximize every minute of the day. Each fifteen-minute block of time is a “unit”. If we meet with a client, we block off two units. If we are working on a special project, we my need twenty units – or, five hours – to get it done.

Taking breaks, spending time with family, and relaxing are a part of our schedules, so we will put those on our calendar as well. In this way, we get the most out of the time we have.

Every minute is precious and meaningful, so although we schedule, we can be flexible enough to change whenever something more important surfaces.

To stay consistent as we carry out the change we want to see in our lives, we must have a vision, make a plan, and stick to a schedule.

A person who crafts all of these with heart and skill will see magnificent progress in every area of life.

What are some of the ways you avoid parking spaces along the road to change in your life?